Friday, January 9, 2009

Changing Parts of our Existing House During Renovation

Because we've lived in our house for 6.5 years, we are fully aware of the short-comings of our existing house which cannot be changed by simply adding a big box on the back. First, our dining room is just a couple of feet too short. With furniture on 3 walls (buffet, china cabinet, and liquor cabinet), it is difficult to center our table where it should be. Second, our closets on the second floor are ridiculously small. The closet in our bedroom is so small that you cannot get a hanger in the closet in the regular way so we had to put bars two bars for my husband going perpendicular to the doorway on one side and shelves for sweaters and t-shirts on the other. I think it's a rather ingenious solution (it was my idea after all!) but it's still a ridiculously small closet. Finally, our upstairs floors have never been refinished since we moved in. In fact, we only ripped the carpet out a year or so ago, since it was practically new when we moved in. (Note: If I could do it again, I would have ripped out ALL the carpet before we moved in and had all of the floors refinished then - lesson learned!). Finally, our upstairs hall bathroom needs a new floor and possibly a vanity.

So, when we entered into this renovation adventure, our intent was to change all of these things. Since we needed to get the floors refinished upstairs, it made sense to adjust the closets at this point since there will be floor exposed and changed. Most of the patching will be in the new closets, but still it makes the most sense to do the floors all at once (yet another reason to move out!). Fixing the closets for long-term use is also important. We have one daughter (and we don't know the sex of baby-to-be), so we KNOW she'll likely have a lot of clothes that will need to be hung out.

As I said in a previous post about moving our stairs, a major bonus of this project is that our oddly L-shaped tiny bedroom (about 8 x 11) will become a real bedroom about 11x12 in the end, so there will be significant floor patching in that room which will warrant floor refinishing.

As for the upstairs bathroom, during our interviews with contractors, several said it may be impossible to just replace the floor because the old tile can be very brittle and the tile walls could be cracked in the process. If that happened, then that would mean gutting the bathroom. Since this is a totally separate project which would not affect anything else in the house, we decided to put this off. Our bathroom is totally usable and not in horrible condition by any means (although it needs new paint or re-wallpapering) so it can definitely be put off for a later date. If anyone has successfully replaced a tile floor but not the walls on a 70 year old house, I would love to hear about it!

So, we are moving forward with most of the changes that we want to make. The hall bathroom can wait but since it won't detract from the house as it is, we'll just wait.
As you consider your addition, look closely at the parts of your existing house which you would like to change and consider including those in the project. In our case, the additional cost was minimal but the long-term benefits are huge.

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